Review of 2003 Activities
With each passing year, TILTS is doing more to help Latvia improve its education system and to introduce Latvian culture internationally. Our thanks to all our participants and suppporters for a successful 2003! Following is a recap from our annual member communication, published January, 2004.
School Improvement Project
Under the leadership of Peteris Zarins and Edite Irbe, and with your contributions and help, we are continuing to provide computers and educational materials to schools in Latvia. During 2003, TILTS received a total of $12,950 earmarked for support of schools in Latvia. It was disbursed to Kalniene Grade school (Gulbene Raj.), Mengele Grade school (Ogre Raj.), Virga School (Liepaja Raj.), Bauska First High school, and Jura Neikena Diklu School (Valmiera Raj.).
It is up to the recipient school how the funds are used. In previous years donations through TILTS were primarily used to acquire computers and related technical materials. During 2003, however, nearly a third of the donations was used to buy a wide variety of textbooks. As an example, the Kalniene Grade school used the funds to obtain books for teaching algebra, geometry, biology, physics, health studies, geography, European and world history, Latvian language and literature, Latvian songs and composers, and four levels of English language studies.
One of our most generous contributors has been Valija Rauceps. As a result of her continued interest and generosity (as seen in her past gifts to Kalniena and Mengele schools), in 2004 we will be providing substantial educational assistance to the 404 students enrolled in the Gulbene High school. This promises to be an exciting project. During 2004, through a letter writing campaign and through appeals in publications, we will be soliciting new donations. We are convinced that there is no more rewarding way to "spend a dollar" than to donate it to the TILTS' school improvements program. We are hopeful that the readers of this TILTS year-end summary will be the first to respond.
We are grateful to Janis Zards for the time and assistance that he has given us as our past treasurer. Thank you, Janis! And please welcome Arnis Sprancmanis as our new treasurer. We again invite you to make contributions to support Latvia's schools. You may wish to choose a school in Latvia that has special significance to you. TILTS can help you to establish the needs of your chosen school. Some schools have the necessary computer hardware, but lack supplies and computer programs. We will direct your contributions to meet the school's particular needs, and we will handle all the communications and transactions.
Please contact Peteris Zarins if you would like to contribute. Donations in the USA are tax-deductible.
Jazeps Medins Music School Boys Choir 2003 US Tour
With financial support from TILTS and tickets for the Czech airline provided by Edvins Kalvins at reduced prices, the Jazeps Medins Music School Boys Choir was able to attend the international Choir Festival in Missoula, MT July 16-20. The Choir received enthusiastic public acclaim, singing choir classics, Latvian composers and folk songs, as well as interesting music from South Africa. Choir director Romans Vanags held a workshop for music teachers and was interviewed by NPR.
After the festival, July 21-29 the choir presented five concerts in Montana, Washington and Oregon, organized by Board member Astra Zemzars and locally arranged by American or Latvian organizations. All of the concerts were well attended, considering that it was the middle of the summer. In Superior, MT, 10% of the residents attended the concert (100 of 1000)! The Choir was also able to enjoy the natural beauty of the Latvian camp Kursa.
In cooperation wit Biruta Zommere, TILTS arranged a short tour for the Latvian National Theatre actress Inta Tirole. She performed plays by Roger Holl and Raimonds Auskapis.
We did not manage this year to arrange a regular tour by a theater company from Latvia. This was partially to avoid conflicts with the West Coast Latvian Song Festival.
Under the leadership of Dace Aperans, TILTS arranged the following concerts in 2003:
- On April 26 the outstanding young pianist Vestards Simkus from Latvia performed at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. This was his first concert on the East Coast. He received enthusiastic public acclaim.
- On September 21 TILTS' first concert in Latvia took place. It was performed in the ornate Melgalvju nams in Riga by four young artists who had received financial support from the TILTS Exceptional Young Artists Fund: pianist Diana Baibusa, cellist Marcis Kuplais, pianist and composer Solveiga Selga, clarinetist Egils Sefers, with Ventis Zilberts at the piano. The concert was well attended and received wide publicity. It was arranged by TILTS Board members living in Riga.
- From October 3 to 7 the well-known young violinist Baiba Skride from Riga, with her sister Lauma Skride, presented four concerts in Washington, DC, Cleveland, OH, Boston, MA, and New York City in a tour organized by TILTS. This was their first tour of the US East Coast. Baiba Skride had received the most prestigious music award in Latvia and is the winner in the international Queen Elizabeth music competition.
- In November the Duopiansist Antra and Normunds Viksnes performed in a concert tour arranged by TILTS; it started at the Westchester Music Conservatory, followed by performances in Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, and Washington, DC. The tour received wide publicity in the US and Latvian press and enthusiastic public acclaim.
In November of 2003, TILTS, in conjunction with the Latvian American Youth Organization, arranged a US tour for the popular cabaret singer Marija Nuomova from Latvia, winner of the gold medal in the 2002 Eurovision competition. She was accompanied by three members of her ensemble and presented a total of 11 performances.
Exceptional Young Artists Fund
On October 7, violinist Baiba Skride, winner of the Queen Elizabeth competition, and her sister, pianist Lauma Skride, donated a concert for the TILTS exceptional Young Artists Fund, held at the Scandinavia House in New York City before an audience close to 150 people. Before the concert, the public had an opportunity to enjoy the art works by Zoya Frolova and Janis Jakobson. Both artists are well known in Latvia as well as in New York and Europe. The concert was hosted by the actress Anna Kepe, past recipient of support from the EYAF.
We were pleased to see so many familiar faces in the audience, past supporters of our benefit concerts, and we wish to thank them for their support. We were happy also to welcome members of our Honorary Board, including Ambassador Gints Jegermanis. After the concert a reception was held at the Volvo Hall, catered by the top notch Scandinavian Restaurant Aquavit.
The concert gave net income of $5,600 to the EYAF. In 2003 the TILTS Exceptional Young Artists committee, headed by Laila Robina with the help of Ilga Blankmeyer and Helga Petrasevica, awarded a total of $7,400 to the following artists:
- Diana Baibus, pianist, $1000
- Marcis Kuplais, cellist, $4,000
- Solvita Moss, soprano, $1,000
- Rudolfs Ozolins, pianist, $1,000
- Solveiga Selga, pianist and composer, $400
The next EYAF benefit concert will take place on January 23  with a performance by the world- famous violinist Gidon Kremer and members of his ensemble Kremerata.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the Exceptional Young Artists Fund can mail a check to:
c/o Laila Robins
241 Central Park West Apt. 14H
New York, N.Y. 10024
In 2003 TILTS provided financial support for the following projects:
- Publication of the book by Valentins Jakabsons "Breakfast at Midnight" (translated into English by Biruta Surmane) - $2,500. The book was published in November, 2003.
- Shipment 120 LP records to the Darzins Music School in Riga - $109.
- Shipment to Latvia of books left by the late Board member Velta Zebergs - up to $1,000.
- Support of the Sixth Latvian Music Camp scheduled to take place July 7 - 10, 2004 at Ogre, Latvia - $1,500.
- Support of the International Art Center at Zvartava, Latvia - $1,000.
We are gratified that, on the basis of our initiative, the President of Latvia has bestowed Triju Zvaigznu ordenis (the Three Star Medal, which is the highest civilian medal) to the following founders of the Toronto organization Dardedze. During the years of soviet occupation of Latvia, Dardedze was instrumental in establishing cultural links between Latvians in Latvia and those living in America.
Concerts Planned for 2004
The following concerts are currently planned:
- On January 23 the world-famous violinist Gidon Kremer with his ensemble Kremerata will dedicate a concert to the TILTS Exceptional Young Artists Fund. The concert will feature also the former recipient of EYAF clarinetist Egils Sefers, with Gints Berzins at the piano. The concert will take place at 7:30 PM at the Kosciuszko Foundation, 15 East 65th Street, New York City. A reception will follow. Tickets are $200 and $100 each. For information, contact Laila Robins, (212) 873-7249.
- The saxophonist Artis Gaga and the pianist/composer Solveiga Selga will give five concerts: Cleveland (January 23), Milwaukee (January 24), Minneapolis (January 25), Philadelphia (January 31), New York (February 1).
- The Head of the Piano Department of the Latvian Academy of Music Juris Kalnciems will give concerts in Cleveland (March 23), Toronto (March 25), Westchester (April 1) and Boston (April 2). It will be his first North American tour.
- The gifted pianist Armands Abols will perform in a number of US and Canadian cities in October.
- In November the well-known opera soloist Antra Bigace and the pianist Ventis Zilverts will perform in the US and Canada.
Other Events Planned for 2004
A number of other events are being explored for 2004:
- Lectures by the writer Anna Zigure in Washington, DC, February 16, Philadelphia February 18 and Priedaine February 20.
- A performance by the 11-year old singer Dzintars Cica at Latvian summer camps.
- A tour by Normunds Rutulis, a singer of Raimonds Pauls' and other popular songs.
- A tour by the Dailes Teatris group with the play "Zemes nodoklis" by Mara Zalite.
- At the request of festival director Janis Erenstreits, Board member Astra Zemzare has extended an invitation to the American Boyschoir to represent America at the 5th International Boys Choir Festival "Rigas Doms" in Riga in the spring of 2004. The Boyschoir has accepted the invitation. Astra has translated preparatory materials into English.